Complete ’73 Affair (Godfather Records GR334/335)
Wien, Stadthalle, September 1, 1973
CD 1 (78:46): Brown Sugar, Bitch, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling Dice, 100 Years Ago, Star Star, Angie, Sweet Virginia, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Dancing With Mr. D, Midnight Rambler, Silver Train, Honky Tonk Women, All Down The Line, Rip This Joint
The Stones open up their first 1973 European Tour Date in Vienna with “Brown Sugar”. The recording source sounds compressed with the treble accentuated amidst intermittent pulsating bass lines which initially borders on harshness contributing to producing listening fatigue and painful with the volume turned up. The source improves, however, with “Bitch” which offers deep defined bass lines although the treble is still annoying. I was able to focus more on the performance as the source wasn’t as distracting with “Bitch” offering an excellent and invigorated track. The horns, unfortunately, sounded bright. I noticed some slight volume fluctuation with “Gimme Shelter” that sounded tempered compared to the Exile label “Scream All Night In Vienna” release of the same show. Taylor offered nice guitar work that absolutely captivates the listener along with a robust + driven finish that earned a rousing crowd applause. After Jagger introduced Keith to sing “Happy”, Keith started tuning his guitar with a few chords that mirrored “You Gotta Move”. “Happy” was delivered initially in a great frenzied manner with Keith’s vocals buried in the mix lending to more emphasis on the band’s strong instrumentation. With a blues inspired “Tumbling Dice”, I found that I was able to separate the strength of the performance from the treble lead source. The Stones sounded good with a solid and restrained interpretive lead into Taylor’s sizzling guitar flight with “100 Years Ago” where the Stones literally exploded and tore into a collective extended jam capping off this 4:39 piece of ecstasy. “Star Star” offered a welcome and intermittent and more pronounced throbbing bass. Charlie was dead on with his ever steady beat. The source appears to change at 3:04 in the track with much deeper bass and reduced treble contributing to this tremendous rendition.
The first notes of “Angie” sounded sweet with Jagger slightly off key for a few seconds. Charlie joined in with melodic and infectious piano accompaniment. The Stones sounded right in their element. The organ bridge was piercing in a good way. Jagger’s voice was an instrument unto its own with Taylor contributing his masterful fluid guitar lines. The Stones were just dead on here recognized by strong crowd applause. Jagger sounded gruff on “Sweet Virginia”. Bobby Keys took over at the bridge inspiring Jagger who let out a few cat calls. The crowd let out an enthusiastic roar after hearing the first few notes of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. The Stones played a strong intro to this track with the crowd clearly getting into it as Jagger was feeding off the crowd. The rhythm section was strong enhanced by Taylor’s magical blended notes. The vocal harmonies distorted a bit but Taylor amps up the ante wailing away furiously on his guitar as the Stones achieve and sustain cruise control. The organ and lead guitar(s) were feeding + bouncing off of each other naturally.
Jagger stated: “We’re gonna do another new song for you now” leading into “Dancing With Mr. D” played a bit up tempo with Taylor comfortably firing away. An aggressive intro for “Midnight Rambler” bode well for the direction the track would take. The organ and guitar(s) traded leads with the harmonica joining in as Charlie was firing on all cylinders until they all decompressed to a slow crawl. Blues fueled licks followed along with Jagger’s repeated cat calls as they proceeded to grind and grind out their measured notes with Richards shining through until they cranked it back up to a frantic pace to close out this 9:43 minute track to sustained and enthusiastic applause. With “Silver Train”, deep bass notes lead this gem accompanied by rich organ leads and blazing guitars. Richards can be heard harmonizing softly in the background. The audience easily got into the long intro of “Honky Tonk Women” with Richards once again lending effective vocal harmony in the background. The Stones sounded like a well oiled machine jamming furiously on “All Down The Line”. The fidelity, unfortunately, did not allow for much instrument separation although Taylor is heard making his mark throughout with Bobby Keys letting it all out. The Stones, coincidentally, were letting it all out up to this point as they tore into “Rip This Joint” literally ripping this joint as they took off here in reckless abandon.
CD 2 (70:51): Jumping Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man. Bonus Tracks: Sydney, 02-26, 1973: Rocks Off, Love In Vain, Little Queenie. Hawaii Honolulu, 01-22, 1973: It’s All Over Now. Los Angeles, 01-18, 1973: Route 66, It’s All Over Now (Version 2), Dead Flowers, No Expectations, Stray Cat Blues. Hawaii Honolulu, 01-22, 1973: Live With Me. Rotterdam (De Doelen) 08-22, 1973: Can You Hear The Music. Brussels Vorst National 10-17, 1973: Gimmie Shelter, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), Dancing With Mr. D.
After an aggressive “Jumping Jack Flash”, the Stones concert culminates with “Street Fighting Man” as they are on high octane finishing off as only they could way back then. The next 3 Bonus Tracks from the infamous 2-16-73 Sydney, Royal Randwick Racecourse boast of a soundboard source. With “Rocks Off”, the treble is favored detracting a bit from this powerful rendition. “Love In Vain” follows with this track beginning to sizzle right from the get go. Jagger, accompanied by his guitarists’, punctuates his effortless blues delivery with Taylor matching Jagger’s intensity as he takes off belting out his signature guitar licks. This is one blistering 5:05 minute performance. The version of “Little Queenie” simply rocked. (Version 1) of “It’s All Over Now” played at Honolulu’s International Center on 1-22-73 is an excellent audience source. This version was indicative of just how much more of a jamming machine the Stones had become since the live debut of this track back in the sixties. 5 Bonus Tracks follow from their 1-18-73 LA Forum show with “It’s All Over Now” (Version 2) offering an even heavier version with nice brisk guitar interludes and Bobby Keys contributing his sax fills as Richards lends his falsetto to “but it’s all over now” refrains. Richards complements Jagger perfectly on harmony on ‘Dead Flowers”. It’s a shame that the piano was buried in the mix. A very intense but soothing standout rendition of “No Expectations” follows. “Stray Cat Blues” is an upbeat and danceable version with a great Taylor jam ending the track.
We revert back to the 1-22-73 Honolulu International Center concert for a solid excellent audience source for “Live With Me.” And now, for the piece de resistance, the Rotterdam Tour Rehearsals of 8-22-73 for “Can’t You Hear The Music” in a soundboard source. This haunting rehearsal of this closet classic is hypnotic and begs for repeated listens. I am simply running out of superlatives to employ here. This is one 9:28 minute work of a genius in progress. A wonderful and perfectly fitting transition to the above follows with “Gimme Shelter”, the first of the 3 final Bonus Tracks from the 10-17-73 Vorst National venue in Belgium in a soundboard source. This is one of the best live versions of this track ever and Taylor is simply on fire with Charlie in tow. A 4:56 rendering of “Heartbreaker Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” of, yet again, one of the best live versions of this track follows. I would have faded audience to audience on these 3 tracks to give the semblance of continuity to these exciting and riveting live feeds. A rousing and biting version of “Dancing With Mr. D” closes out the very generous helping of Bonus Tracks. I would have allowed for an extension of audience applause with a slow fade out to complete it.
I compared G.R. 334/335 with EXCD-014/15 for the 9-1-73 Vienna show and found the latter to exhibit more gain with a heavier all around low end and with disturbing volume fluctuations throughout. The former, however, was cleaned up reflecting deeper and cleaner bass lines that were, unfortunately, initially overshadowed by an accentuated high end. The volume fluctuations, however, were hardly discernible with the former and were apparent to me because I was familiar with the source for the latter. Godfather Records deserves kudos for their successful ability to clean up inferior sounding tape source(s). I was honestly able to enjoy the 9-1-73 standout Stones performance after track 2, “Bitch”, and really never looked back. CD 2 offers an extremely healthy dose of Bonus Tracks. The real highlights, of course, are the 3 tracks from the 2-16-73 Sydney concert which I do not believe have ever surfaced previously on CD. I am curious as to the whereabouts of the rest of the 2-16-73 performance.
The artwork for G.R. 334/335 is outstanding and cutting edge in every respect featuring breathtaking period photos along with 1973 Winter East Tour + 1973 European Tour date listings in their crafty and elegant tri-fold packaging. This particular release comes with high recommendations for a number of reasons as it captures a phenomenal and classic Stones performance on 9-1-73. But the real treat aside from the 3 first time Bonus tracks of their 2-16-73 concert lies obviously and without reservations with the 9:28 minutes of sheer musical genius captured as part of the Stones 8-22-73 legendary Rotterdam Tour Rehearsals of “Can’t You Hear The Music”!